Credentials Display

Zahava L. Friedman, PhD, OT, BCBA; Jorge Ochoa, OT; Dina Prisco, PhD, OTR/L, BCP; Francine Seruya, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurologically-based developmental disorder representing a subdomain of neurodivergence. Occupational therapy intervention for ASD typically incorporates sensory modalities, addressing a multitude of challenges, including mental health outcomes. This scoping review analyzes available evidence of the sensory-based intervention of therapeutic drumming (TD) to improve mental health in autistic clients.

Method: Following the Johanna Briggs methodological framework, Proquest, Ebsco, Scopus and OTseeker databases were searched with the key and related words of “autism,” “therapeutic drumming,” and “mental health,” yielding 448 articles. After removal of duplicates and application of inclusion criteria, seventeen articles were included in the final analysis.

Results: Analysis revealed strong consistency in delivery and implementation of TD intervention. Instrumentation of outcome measures, in contrast, was not well-synchronized; therefore, efficacy of the intervention was difficult to assess.

Conclusion: Limitations included a general lack of research, limited research of TD with autistic people in occupational therapy literature, and a dearth of strongly instrumented research. This review revealed valuable contributions of TD interventions as a neurodiversity-affirming practice to support mental health and inform future studies of implementation of TD for people with ASD across the lifespan within the scope of occupational therapy.


The authors declare that they have no competing financial, professional, or personal interest that might have influenced the performance or presentation of the work described in this manuscript.